Sonny Fulks
Sonny Fulks
Managing Editor

Sonny Fulks is a graduate of Ohio State University where he pitched four varsity seasons for the Buckeyes from 1971 through 1974. He furthered his baseball experience as a minor league umpire for seven seasons, working for the Florida State League (A), the Southern League (AA), and the American Association (AAA). He has written for numerous websites, and for the past fourteen years has served as columnist and photo editor for The Gettysburg Magazine, published by the University of Nebraska Press, in Lincoln Nebraska. His interests include history, support for amateur baseball, the outdoors, and he has a music degree from Ohio State University.


My weekend trip to California was eye-opening, for sure, and another reason to appreciate how the other half lives.  And by the way…it’s a very good reason to appreciate how we live back here in the Midwest, too.

Driving home Monday night from the Columbus airport I called my son Matt and thanked him, again, for four very enlightening and satisfying days in San Diego…since spring of 2017, his new chosen home.

We did all that before I left, of course, but there’s nothing like four hours on a commercial airplane to make you second guess about your kids and the job you did as a parent.  And the good news is…except for one thing I was just as happy when I landed as I was when we took off.  The exception, you might ask?

Well, the air in San Diego is so good that you don’t need Claritan.  You can breathe.  No sinus headaches and junk draining down the back of your throat.  It’s no wonder they have all those bronze statues of the Spanish explorers out there sitting on a horse with their head thrown back and their nose up in the air.  THEY CAN BREATHE, even the statues, and they celebrate it in California.  Back here, I suppose they’d miss that point, tear the statue down, and blame it on social injustice.

I wrote in Saturday’s feature column…it’s not for me, the California way of life.  Not that I don’t appreciate the good qualities of it, because I do…but I function much better in a community of 2,950,000 less people.  Simple does it better for me.

I have no patience for that traffic.  I have even less patience for $4.79 gas and $6.00 milk.  And the food is fabulous if you eat out…assuming that you just sold stock to pay for dinner before you leave the house.  Like Matt told me, you pay for the privilege of that wonderful air in San Diego.

The place is very clean, and it’s very dry…built on the fringe of a desert.  You don’t see litter along the highway, like you might see on US 36 or route 48.  It takes a search warrant to find a discarded beer can.  Why?  Because a couple of six packs of craft beer cost $27.50 at the local store on Saturday, and I’m pretty sure at those prices people prefer to keep the cans and as a way of remembering the experience…as well as their money.

It’s a way of life, as Matt told me repeatedly.  And thankfully he’s young enough to adapt and appreciate.  I look forward to going back…after he’s moved up to Ja Jolla to live in the cliffs.  Those people don’t worry about dinner, or the cost of beer.

Was surprised to open the email bag Monday morning and read some first, and quick, responses on last week’s column, The Noose Tightens On Football.  Of course, you know when you write something like that in this part of the country that it’s going to be sensitive.  In fact, I knew when I left.

“Why to you have to write that *%^@# every year?,”  one had called to tell me.  He wasn’t alone.  “You promised to be fair to both sides of the issue,”  he added.  “But there’s only one paragraph at the end that says football is good.  The rest of it talked about injuries.”

Another from the area questioned if the high school photo at the right had been photo-shopped, for more dramatic impact.  No!  Football is football is football now, and the level of play doesn’t seem to matter.

But most were positive, understanding that the content of the column was about ongoing research over injuries in all sports (like other areas of medicine)…and concerns over the issue that maybe, just maybe, we’re growing too big, and too fast, to play the way we used to play.  And if you read the story and were left wondering what it was about…that was it, pure and simple.

“I never stopped to think about how fast Usain Bolt runs,”  wrote someone from Columbus.  “So yes, someone that weighs 230 pounds and runs 28 miles-per-hour is going to do some damage.  I don’t think I want to see that.  Thanks for putting it such clear perspective.”

Matt Hare, from Troy, added this.  “My favorite part was Al Hetrick saying that football would be safer if you took the face masks off the helmets.  Then people wouldn’t lead with their heads.  Makes sense.”

As a correction that must be stated, it wasn’t ‘current’ Bengals trainer Paul Sparling who said that only 10% of high school athletes do enough conditioning to adequately protect themselves on the field.  It was former Bengals strength and conditioning coach Kim Wood, that said that on WLW’s evening sports talk show, two years ago.  Just for the record….

So yes, you can expect some changes in football in the next five years, and I assume even at the high school level.  Because walk-off line of that column seems to have made the biggest impression of all.

More than one wrote to say, “I never thought we’d outgrow football, either.”